Black Desert Online #4: The Final Straw

By Shamus Posted Friday May 11, 2018

Filed under: Retrospectives 105 comments

Good combat, pretty visuals, lots of fun, blah blah. Enough screwing around. Let’s tear off this band-aid and see how bad the infection is.

Like I said last week, I was willing to put up with the lousy translation, the bad balance, the inconvenient “simulation” elements, the offensively priced cash shop, and the lack of interesting long-term goals. I guess I was just really into electrocuting huge groups of dudes and was willing to put up with a lot of nonsense to keep doing that.

Until I reached level 50…

Level 50 is PvP

I'd just refuse this quest and stay level 49 forever to explore the rest of the PvE content, but once you hit level 49, every single time you earn XP the game floods you with little BONK notification sounds and flashes a warning that you need to take this quest. It's the same sound the game uses to let you know something is WRONG. (Like your mount is being attacked.) It's maddening.
I'd just refuse this quest and stay level 49 forever to explore the rest of the PvE content, but once you hit level 49, every single time you earn XP the game floods you with little BONK notification sounds and flashes a warning that you need to take this quest. It's the same sound the game uses to let you know something is WRONG. (Like your mount is being attacked.) It's maddening.

I’ve said before that’s completely moronic to make PvP the endgame for PvE content. People looking to fight other players don’t want to have to play all these hours of single-player content to get to the “real” game, and people looking for a good old monster-bashing power fantasy don’t want to be shoved into a world where they can be randomly insta-killed by some jackass ten levels over them. That’s a hell of a reward for the PvE player. “Thanks for putting in all the hard work to level up and reach the endgame. Your prize is that the game is now ruined for you.” These are two different groups of players with different needs, and it makes no sense to connect them like this.

Yes, I know this is common in MMO design and not limited to Black Desert Online, but this is what killed the game for me. I hit level 49 and the game told me the next step was forced PvP. That was it. I was done.

PvE and PvP really are two different games for two different audiences. Imagine if the football league had people play football all year until they reached the championship where the winner was decided via baseball. This is a complete gameplay non-sequitur and I can’t believe developers are still doing this.

Black Desert allows you to opt-out of PvP. However, players can still attack you, even if you’re flagged as not willing to participate in PvP. As the game itself explains:

If you want to fight you need to activate PvP mode. While you have this mode activated you are free to attack any other player if this player is allowed to participate in PvP. You can even attack players who have turned off their PvP button. But you will be receiving karma points if you kill such players. You can also be attacked any time by other player.

If your PvP mode is on, attacker will not get any penalties. By activating this mode you tell other players that you are ready to fight. This system is pretty similar to PvP system of many other MMO games.

So if a player has opted out of PvP you can still attack them, and the penalty is that you will get negative karma.

It goes on to talk about what a challenge is to have (bad) karma. This is, of course, a monumentally stupid system if your actual goal is to protect players who don’t want to PvP. Aggressive and challenge-seeking players will naturally want to know about what the “challenge” of negative karma looks like, which means you’ve just created an incentive for griefers to kill players who have explicitly said they don’t want to participate in this dumbass open-world deathmatch. Some players enjoy the added challenge of running around with negative karma and being attacked by town guards, which means killing other players is just part of their daily upkeep. And on top of that this just leads to a meta-game where players try to harass each other with the karma system.

Such a pretty game. Shame about the design. And the microtransactions. And the translation. And the server outages. And the...
Such a pretty game. Shame about the design. And the microtransactions. And the translation. And the server outages. And the...

There’s an easy solution to the problem, which is if you really don’t want griefers to slaughter players who are here for the PvE content, then just make it impossible to attack them. Or make PvE-only servers. But instead the developers made this convoluted system where the game allows you to do something and then tries to punish you for it, thus sanctioning that action as a valid form of gameplay.

Think about how perverse this is. You’re allowing one of your customers to have his fun at the expense of another customer, who has explicitly not consented to this. I know developers sloppily lump all “competitive” players into the same category, but there’s a huge difference between a player looking to challenge themselves against other competitive people, and the kind of griefer who desires to have fun by ruining the game for someone else. It’s the difference between a boxing match between willing contestants and assaulting a rando on the street. Given the dynamics involved, one griefer can ruin the fun for a lot of other people. Once you get one PvE player to leave / logoff, you have to move on and find another one. And another.

BDO justifies this by saying “This system is pretty similar to PvP system of many other MMO games.” That might be true, but it’s still a shitty system. (And I can’t think of any other game that offers a PvP consent flag and then allows other players to violate it.)

I came back to the game after a long hiatus and found four pages of downtime apologies in my inbox. Glad I missed out on that. If you're curious, the apology gifts are mostly lame XP boost items, not items of real value from the cash shop.
I came back to the game after a long hiatus and found four pages of downtime apologies in my inbox. Glad I missed out on that. If you're curious, the apology gifts are mostly lame XP boost items, not items of real value from the cash shop.

Maybe ganking isn’t common. Maybe I’d only get murdered once every few days. But even the threat of PvP makes me stop enjoying the game. I don’t like that extra layer of stress. I’ve got a lot to worry about between my quests, my leveling, my looting, and my resource gathering, and I really don’t want to do all that under the threat that I might suddenly find myself in a fight against some asshole five levels over me who’s geared for PvP and has months of experience slaughtering poor slobs like me. I’ll lose that fight every time. You might as well add a feature that my character will randomly die of heart attacks every so often. It adds nothing to my experience except stress when I’m anticipating it and frustration when it happens. Put the gankers on a server where they can stab each other silly and let me fight my monsters in peace. If I wanted to fight other players I’d get PUBG and fight people on a level playing field.

“Well Shamus maybe you just need to get good and then getting ganked wouldn’t be a problem!”

My problem is that I hate PvP, and your solution is that I should play a whole lot more of it? I don’t want to “get good” because that takes time and practice I’d rather spend fighting monsters. Or staring at the loading screen. Or doing the dishes. Or basically anything else.

So why would they do this? Why would they allow a small group of toxic players to drive off the more casual types? My guess is that it all cynically leads back to the cash shop. They sell power items there in a gross pay-to-win sort of setup. I imagine the thinking is that the developers see the unrepentant griefer as a sort of salesman. “Tired of getting murdered by dudes with top-level gear and stats? Well, we have some items that can help you. We just need you to use your credit card to buy coins to buy pearls to buy power and maybe you’ll be able to go back to enjoying the game.”

Which means it’s time to talk about…

The Destructive Influence of “Free” to Play

Here are half a dozen female characters in sexy maid outfits and lingerie, all chopping wood beside the bank manager. I get the sense that the Bank of Hope is the Goldshire of Black Desert Online.
Here are half a dozen female characters in sexy maid outfits and lingerie, all chopping wood beside the bank manager. I get the sense that the Bank of Hope is the Goldshire of Black Desert Online.

In the old days, the monthly fee kept players and developers in harmony. The more fun the devs make the game, the longer I’ll keep hanging around and paying the fee. The better they make a game, the more money they make. It wasn’t a perfect system, but it was a lot better than the mess we have now.

With microtransaction-driven games, the developer incentives are backwards. They’re now motivated to make the game a hassle so they can sell me relief from the hassle. Their goal is not to make the best game possible, but to make a game just good enough to keep me interested, but just bad enough that I’ll pay to have some of the bad stuff mitigated.

When we talk about companies that “make money so they can make games” versus “making games to make money”, this is exactly the sort of thing that will reveal where a company’s heart really is. A team that wants to make great games is going to be extremely reluctant to deliberately harm the design of the game – to make it less fun – in order to make more money. They won’t make those kinds of compromises unless they’re worried about impending insolvency.

Even if money is no object for you as a player, the presence of microtransactions still mean you’re playing a game built with compromised principles, and it still means lots of fussing around in the store page rather than just playing the stupid videogame. In Black Desert Online you can pay money to mitigate the inventory pressure the game puts on you, but you’re still playing a game where lots of systems were designed specifically to create inventory headaches.


Every major type of enemy has their usual list of crap that they drop on death, but then they also have an additional “trophy” that they drop. The trophies can only be sold in fixed allotments, and only to certain people. So now I’ve got a stack of 267 cultist headbands. I can’t just sell them at any vendor. I have to haul them all the way to Captain Fancypants, who will pay me 80,000 for each stack of 100 headbands. Which means I’ll have 67 left over. Do I keep them? That’s two-thirds of another valuable stack and I might have to fight these cultists later but… I don’t know. And my pockets are already so full. Arg.

If you find yourself wondering why the game feels like it was engineered to be annoying, that’s because it was.

Also, some inventory systems limit you by slots (World of Warcraft) and some limit you by weight (Skyrim) but Black Desert Online imposes limits for both. And yes, if you want to raise the limits that’s two entirely separate bonuses you need to buy.

Yeah, yeah. “Simulation.” I’m sure that’s why they designed it this way.

I’ll admit some games have done the free-to-play thing it well, but the bad incentives are there and they’ve ruined a lot of potentially good titles.

It’s a tragedy that Black Desert is such an overpriced chore. This is a gorgeous game with fantastic combat, but the rot of grasping microtransaction-driven design runs deep. And even if I could overlook that, the PvP nonsense is a complete dealbreaker for me.

What a stupid waste.


From The Archives:

105 thoughts on “Black Desert Online #4: The Final Straw

  1. Daimbert says:

    For PvP of this sort, I really liked Dark Age of Camelot’s approach to this (I think they did something like it for the Warhammer game as well) even though I never got to a level where I could do it and am not a PvP player anyway. Since that game had three separate realms, what they had were battlegrounds where you could fight against the other two sides to capture keeps and the like, attain relics, and so on and so forth. This meant that if you liked PvP you had a separate playground to play in so that it didn’t disturb PvE players, there were set goals to strive for rather than just “Let’s kill people”, and it encouraged players from each realm to co-operate with each other because that was the only way to get the rewards and win the battles, so it promoted pride in your own realm.

    I think City of Heroes did something like that as well.

    That being said, as per the article you linked sometimes you want open-world PvP just so that if someone is bothering you you can kill them and go on with your life …

    1. kdansky says:

      I am pretty sure you could also go into another faction’s zones, which was fun but extremely dangerous: Every single player, every town guard (some of which had super stats), every monster and ever NPC was hostile towards you. It was fun to play raiding party sometimes.

      WoW did basically the same thing.

      The issue with this system is simple: You need to make double or triple the content, and half or two thirds of the player base will miss every piece of content you make. That’s really not an acceptable trade-off to fix a problem that should not be there in the first place.

      The solution is much simpler: Make some games with PVP in mind, and make other without PVP in mind, then focus the game on that. Planetside does not have PVE, and Warframe does not have PVP, but both are MMOs.

      BDO forcing both players to participate on both kinds of game is so stupid, I wouldn’t even believe it if I read in on reddit.

      1. Droid says:

        Is it really less “wasteful” to make two games that the separate audiences are interested in (so only 1/2 to 2/3 of the audience will have played either game, on average, depending on how much overlap there is) than the mixed solution you described?

      2. Daimbert says:

        I think, though, that Dark Age of Camelot, The Old Republic and City of Heroes have better models that can allow for PvE after the level cap without having to add post-cap PvE content.

        In Dark Age of Camelot, if you are a PvE player who has just finished all the Albion content, then create a character in the Midgard or Hibernia realms instead. And since different classes in different realms at least originally played differently, you can keep on playing them for quite some time (DAoC was my first MMO and the one that essentially created my altitis).

        In The Old Republic, when you finish one class story, do the next class story. You get to go through eight different stories before having to repeat.

        In City of Heroes, different classes and powersets play differently and the character creation system allowed for a wide variety of characters, so altism again is encouraged. This one isn’t as good at that, though.

        The key is to get PvE players to restart at the level cap and PvP players to fight each other. I found when trialing WoW that playing an Undead Warlock and a Dwarf Paladin gave me so similar an experience that I had no interest in playing the two separately. DAoC wasn’t like that — each realm and class were often radically different — and in TOR while the gameplay was the same the stories were radically different which made it more interesting for me. This seems, to me, to be the best way to keep PvE and PvP separate without having to build in that much more end game content.

      3. Hal says:

        One particular point on WoW:

        While this isn’t “forced PvP,” they earned themselves a lot of grief by including PvP content in a lot of their holiday events.

        For example, every year they have a “Children’s Week” where your character can have one of the war orphans tag along with them. There are quests to lead them around and show them the sights, and you get fun cosmetic rewards for doing it all. Plus, if you complete all of the achievements, you can get additional rewards. (I don’t recall what the rewards are specifically at this time; usually these are pets and titles and such.)

        Except, many of these achievements require you to go to PvP battlegrounds (separate instances for specific PvP matches) in order to complete the tasks. Not only that, but some of these achievements are not related to the actual mechanics of the match, so you’re quite specifically going in there to do something besides trying to win the PvP match.

        PvP players hate it because suddenly there are all of these PvE players screwing up their game. PvE players hate it because now they’re having to do this super stressful stuff, they’re getting griefed, and they’re earning the ire of the PvP players. It makes everybody unhappy!

        (I know there are other examples of forced PvP in WoW, but I think this gets the point across.)

        1. Randy M says:

          Nevermind the forced PVP, that’s pretty jarring tonally. “Take these war orphans out for the day! Oh, and please tour these active battlefields while your at it. They’d love to watch people die gruesomely as their parents did!”

          1. Awetugiw says:

            Yeah, that is always a bit awkward.

          2. Greg says:

            THANK you. I have always hated that achievement. I finished it years ago, and still would post every year asking them to remove it from the meta. It’s the worst, and I don’t understand why they leave it in.
            Like the two of you pointed out, it’s bad for PVE, it’s bad for PVP, and it’s bad for lore/tone.

        2. Andy says:

          Oh god, Children’s Week. When I did it in 2010 you had to play WoW’s version of CTF, and you actually had to be the one to capture the actual flag. So th game expcted you to actually be GOOD at it. It annoyed the PVE players because, well, lambs to the slaughter… And it annoyed the PvP players because there was a sudden influx of scrubs ruining the game.

          I only completed it because there was a GOOD player who went out, captured the flag for our team, ran it 95% of the way back and dropped it in front of my face for the easy pickup and score.

          But hey, dat violet proto-drake, amirite?

          1. Hal says:

            Yeah, the whole thing was nuts.

            I’ve been clean of the game since 2014; when I think about how much time and energy I put into earning some of those rewards, I wince.

        3. Grimwear says:

          I renewed my WoW subscription in December just for the month and tried doing the Wintersday achivements. They have one where you need to go into a device to turn you into a gnome for an hour and get 50 honourable kills. This meant I was forced to doing battlegrounds but it’s even worse because if you die then you lose your gnome costume. I was lucky in that I finished them in 2 battlegrounds (hurray being a warlock, standing in the rear and just tossing spells at people and running away if it looked like our mob was going to die) but for people who are bad/a melee class/unlucky you can just die immediately and be screwed because if you die and decide to leave you can’t get back into another for 15 minutes. I can only imagine how many people entered, died, left, alt-tabbed for 15 minutes and repeated until done.

      4. Canthros says:

        Warframe has a PvP mode called Conclave, actually, but it’s pretty minor, difficult to stumble into accidentally, and not required to progress in the coop/PvE side of the game, at all. (It also seems kind of unpopular, but I recall there being a pretty loud subset of players that clamored for such a thing before it existed, so maybe its players are dedicated.)

        GW2 is another one that has very clear separations between PvE and PvP modes.

        This business of progressing the PvE story through PvP zones has turned me right off a couple different MMOs, so far. It’s a real pain, even when the game doesn’t require that you engage in PK behavior.

        1. King Marth says:

          Warframe even did the ‘forced PvP’ part correctly, in the seasonal events that counted Conclave matches. Even when encouraging inexperienced players to try PvP, those events created a separate mode so the serious players would only have to deal with the flood of new people when playing the seasonal mode. In that mode, everyone had identical stats and weapons (snowballs and a candy cane scythe for winter, because this is a serious space Ninja game), so it was purely skill-based and didn’t selectively reward the people with PvP mods. Matches were free for all. Event progress never required actually winning the match, the first seasonal event gave more event credit for winning (leading to people agreeing to all get one point and tie for everyone getting first place) but even then you could still get your event items through participation. I’ve seen a few people lament the lack of this kind of Conclave mode in normal play, though without the event incentive you might not get the player count to sustain the mode.
          Speaking of matchmaking? Recruit Conditioning is their solution, where new Conclave players get their own matchmaking. You can disable it at any time, and it is forced off (with your knowledge) if you want to get access to higher-tier PvP rewards. Everyone gets some time to figure the mode out before being thrown into an arena with experts, and anyone skilled who wants to grief newbies is giving up rewards to do so.

          Still not good enough for me to play Conclave. The seasonal events were a fun departure, but the required number of matches for event rewards was just a little more than enough for me.

      5. Manticore Falco says:

        I liked Guild Wars 2’s solution to this, where each server was its own faction, in essence. You have everyone playing the same game, but you still have the PVP only meeting grounds.

        It’s kind of fallen by the wayside with the (much-needed) implementation of megaservers a few years back, and they’re changing how the “worlds” for World vs. World will be working so that they’re not tied to server, but it’s a neat concept.

        1. Grimwear says:

          I only played GW2 for a couple months on release before it annoyed me too much and I left but I always loved their idea for WvWvW. I’d even be ok with particular worlds having the strongest pvpers and stomping everyone but when I played the fortresses were glitched so you couldn’t capture them. Even worse was that if you wanted to build siege weapons you needed to pay money for blueprints. Which cost full gold pieces. Like what?! That was insane. I havent played in years and I’m sure even with their “economy created by a real economist!” the economy is most likely broken. In that first month I traded all my measly gold (roughly 5g) for 2 character slots which cost 1600 gems. Quickly checking prices now 100 gems is about 30 gold. Meaning those same two character slots would cost me 480 gold.

          To get back on point I remember Guild Wars 2 being a game that was terrible at providing monetary rewards and that to even participate in their huge PvP world would have cost me more money than I could gather in a month just to build the siege weapons. Weapons which once destroyed were gone meaning I’d essentially thrown my money off a cliff for all the good it did me.

          1. Civilis says:

            As a long time GW2 player, that brings back memories. I had forgotten how much inflation there has been.

            Yes, early GW2 WvW was the subject of constant complaints that it was a gold sink. It’s been mitigated somewhat; they’ve increased the rewards for WvW while the costs for siege weapons haven’t gone up. You get 2g just for completing dailies these days. And they’ve removed the gold costs for upgrading structures in WvW.

            GW2 still has two massive WvW problems (if not more): first, the most dedicated WvW players have all stacked on a single server, meaning it’s normal for other servers to intentionally lose just enough to not end up facing them. Second, there’s an insane gap between the capabilities of dedicated WvW players and those of us that spend most of our time in PvE. I’ve watched dedicated WvW players slaughter groups of as many as four or five regular players, often from the perspective of one of the corpses, and most of those builds can outrun anything they can’t fight. And forget getting caught alone; it’s frustrating to spend a couple minutes trying to catch up with the group only to get eliminated by a roamer without being able to so much as get a move in, then be faced with the daunting task of catching up again.

  2. KarmaTheAlligator says:

    Well, your first post on BDO almost made me try it, but now I’m really glad I didn’t.

    I completely agree on the need to separate PVE and PVP. As a PVE player myself, I did the same thing as you in a previous MMO where the end game was PVP only (and the game had been PVE – and fun- until that point).

    1. BlueHorus says:

      BDO’s Karma system really sounds like they’ve (for lack of a better word) weaponised some of their player base.

      1. Make PvP mandatory.
      2. Create convoluted system that makes it look like PvP is discouraged, but tacitly incentivises some players.
      3. Sell in-game power to help the players afraid of being killed in PvP.
      4. Also sell the power to greifers. Maybe we can get an arms race going!
      5. PROF – oh wait, that meme’s ancient. Nevermind.

      Reminds me of the system in Metal Gear Solid 5, where people could attack each other’s bases – which affected the base in that player’s single-player game saves.
      So then Konami introduced a way for players to pay real money in order to protect their base from raids.

      Create the problem, then sell the solution. Isn’t this the definition of a racket?

      1. TheJungerLudendorff says:

        “My, what a nice base you have there. Shame if something were to happen to it…”

        1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          They LITERALLY called it “base insurance”. You know… what the mafia might call their protection fees? Konami is, without exaggeration, the worst AAA developer on the market right now. Mainly because they don’t seem to want to be one and are run more like a criminal organization these days.

      2. Ivan says:

        You could turn off the online, in MGS5, tho. For free. Can’t do that in BDO from the sound of it.

        1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          BDO is an MMO. How would “turning off the online” even work? It’s an online only game…

          1. Asdasd says:

            Come on, he clearly just means that BDO doesn’t offer an opt-out from the racket.

          2. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Get a pirated server and run it on your machine.Its technically possible,but good luck with that.

  3. Zak McKracken says:

    Sorry to be that guy: You forgot the “Continue reading” link, and the whole post is showing on the homepage.

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        oh, wow. Was aware of the game but hadn’t really seen it in action.
        Not actually sure if I’d want to be that guy, either.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Its good for 2 things:Playing in bursts if you want to work on your muscle memory and watching a lets play of it.

  4. Zaxares says:

    Well, that forced PvP mechanic certainly would have been an absolute dealbreaker if I was thinking of trying BDO. I know there are some players who like that sort of added “thrill” that you could be attacked at any time, but for me, it’s just a hassle. I have limited gaming time and anything that interrupts it is an annoyance and waste of my time and money.

  5. BlueBlazeSpear says:

    Here’s my thing: I just don’t like MMOs no matter what form they take. I’m assuming that a lot of my opinion was formed from back when I originally decided to dab my toe into the MMO experience and it was in a PvP environment and it was basically a checklist of every horrible PvP stereotype you can imagine and I quickly decided that it wasn’t for me.

    I recent years, I’ve found myself softening to the idea of MMOs strictly based on what I’ve seen happening with the PvE stuff. It almost looks fun sometimes. But I find myself very turned back off to the whole notion of MMOs at the idea of getting to play a PvE game that eventually dumps you into a PvP game when that’s absolutely not the experience I want to have. What Black Desert Online does here feels to me very much like a long-con bait-and-switch.

    1. Kylroy says:

      A lot of MMOs have entirely avoidable PvP components. City of Heroes only had PvP in specific zones. Outside of cosmetic rewards, there’s no PvP-exclusive content in WoW, nor a way for PvPers to attack people who’ve opted out. I haven’t played much of other MMOs, but my impressions of Final Fantasy 14 and Lord of the Rings Online are that any PvP content is segregated from regular PvE questing gameplay.

      Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of reasons not to like MMOS – grind, balance issues, community problems, etc. But if distaste for PvP is your major sticking point, I’d go as far as to say *most* MMOs will let you ignore it entirely.

      1. Dev Null says:

        True, but you’d have to want to get something else out of the multiplayer.

        I played WoW for years. Had a fun guild full of cool folks that I met in the game, mixed liberally with RL friends. We did some raiding and other cooperative content, and that was fun. I’ve also used online games to keep in touch with friends from overseas. I got social interaction mixed in with my gameplay.

        I played GW2 for quite a bit, but never really did the social thing (my wife and I played together for a while, but we could have done that playing Borderlands or something… it didn’t need to be an MMO.) But GW2 had large spontaneous world events, where a dragon would show up or something, and anyone who was in the area could help fight it. So we still got something from the MMO-ness; epic-sized group battles and events.

        I’ve also played a lot of DDO (though mostly years ago.) But most of the DDO content is instanced – so you rarely run into random strangers while you play – and for whatever reason I enjoyed playing their missions solo, so I rarely joined a party. I might as well have been playing a single-player game at that point. (And it was free-to-play, so I was fine with that.)

        My point being that BlueBlazeSpear said that they didn’t care for PVP, or MMOs in general. Yes, you can avoid the PVP in most games. But if the “massively-multiplayer” isn’t bringing _something_ else to the table that you enjoy, then why bother? (Or pay?) For a lot of people (not me) that something else is the opportunity to play PVP. And clearly, there are lots of other somethings – I mentioned a few, and they’ve kept me playing in the genre for a LOT of years now. I’d encourage Blue to try one out and specifically check out those other aspects. But if they don’t do anything for you? Just don’t play MMOs. There are lots of good single-player games out there, and life’s too short to play games you don’t like.

        1. Dreadjaws says:

          True, but you’d have to want to get something else out of the multiplayer.

          Not really. MMOs can be played as large-scale single player games. I played Champions Online a lot because it was the only game around that let me create my own superhero (I mean, there’s DCUO too, but, well…), and I could entirely ignore the existence of other players. There just aren’t any single player games like that.

          1. Dev Null says:

            Good point. (And actually, I played City of Heroes for awhile for much the same reason.) I’ll amend to “you’d have to want to get something else out of _the multiplayer game_”. It might not have anything to do with multiplayer, if the game in question is offering up something else that no one else does.

            My point just being that, even when it works and is designed well, online adds a certain amount of hassle to a game. If an online game doesn’t offer you anything you want that you can’t get elsewhere, why play it? The fact that you can turn off a feature that you hate (PVP, from the original discussion) is no reason to suddenly change your stance on MMOs…

          2. MelTorefas says:

            This is one of the biggest reasons I still play WoW as much as I do. I would *love* a single player game that played the same as WoW. By which I mean, actionbars, free 3rd person camera control, auto-attacking, ability cooldowns, and cartoony stylized graphics… the whole package. But I have NEVER seen a single player game that does this.

            Sure, some come close, like Dragon Age Inquisition or Kingdoms of Amalur, but they are all do stuff different that makes them much less fun (DAI had incredibly boring graphics and a very wonky combat system, and KoA had “action” combat and a bunch of other issues). A game that was more or less “WoW, but designed and balanced around single-player or small-group coop” would be a dream, but it just doesn’t exist.

            So sometimes the point isn’t that the multiplayer aspect provides anything specifically so much as that the game itself provides a gameplay experience that can’t be found anywhere else. That said I DO enjoy some of the multiplayer stuff in WoW, but I would still absolutely love a single player game that hit the same notes for me. I’ve wanted one for ages.

            Edit: That’s what I get for leaving the tab open and then coming back and replying without refreshing, lol. Dev Null’s reply above is exactly right.

  6. Mintskittle says:

    That PVP model reminds me of EVE Online, where you were free too attack anyone anywhere, but it you did it in high security space, CONCORD would destroy the offender, though the system rating would determine how quickly they showed up, so you might still get ganked before they got there. It became a game for some people, to build a ship as cheaply as possible to kill their chosen target, usually hi-sec miners. Taken to its logical extreme with Hulkageddon where hundreds of people would travel about in great fleets targeting any hi-sec miners they could find over the course of 3-4 days.

    1. Droid says:

      Do you mean there is a difference in response time between sectors of the same security rating or does it only depend on the security rating and not the specific sector?

      Also, do they show up in low-sec at all? The name seems to suggest they do, but I’ve never played, so I don’t know.

      1. Mintskittle says:

        Systems are rated on a 0.0 to 1.0 rating. The 1.0 systems are the safest, with immediate response to aggressors. As you move down the ratings, to 0.9, 0.8 and so on, the response time gets longer, though from what I remember, CONCORD defense ends at 0.4, where they no longer protect players. It’s been years since I last played, so I could be mistaken, but the only difference between low sec and nul sec is whether players can claim territory and set up stations, as I believe low sec (0.4 to 0.1) is still considered as owned by the big NPC factions.

        The way the game encourages players to move to the lower rated sectors is that higher rated sectors have less valuable resource nodes, be it asteroids to mine, NPC pirate ships to kill and loot, and PvE mission difficulty.

        1. Droid says:

          Thanks! I always love hearing about EVE’s game design. If only I had more time to sink into an MMO, EVE would probably be it.

          1. rlor says:

            As a note they can also declare war on your corp (guild) to avoid a CONCORD response. Also in general they know how many ships are needed to blow you up before CONCORD arrives. The biggest thing is not to carry enough valuable cargo (there are cargo scanners) or “epic” gear (gear scanners) in a ship that wouldn’t take much to blow up.

            In Low security space the “gates” (zone lines) are protected by gate guns that will aid the victim, though generally it is only going to help if the victim is flying a tough ship in the first place.

            In 0.0 (Null security) you’re completely on your own.

            Eve really does have a mixture of PvE and PvP. I remember for example in a very small market having someone undercut me by a “penny” (0.01 ISK) multiple times. So I bought their goods to find out who it was, found their assets (they had their own space station), and blew it up along with the player defenders gaining what they were producing so I now had a full monopoly of a very tiny market.

            You can expand that from a tiny market that only has 5-10 people corps to gigantic blocks of thousands of people with hands in hundreds of markets.

            1. Droid says:

              Exacting Vengeance Eagerly – Online

  7. Abnaxis says:

    I have literally 0 XP with this, but don’t a lot of “open world PvP” MMOs have something like “low security” and “high security” areas to encourage the PvP people to stay in their area? Like, can’t you technically attack people in newbie areas of WoW, but the guards are extremely high level, or some-such thing? In what ways does that differ from the “you get gimped if you attack PvP opt-outs” system, as far as incentives go?

    1. Kylroy says:

      First, the system you described is the approach of EVE Online, which is generally regarded as the most PvP-focused, least PvE and newbie-friendly MMO. Most other MMOs let folks opt out of PvP completely.

      As for how it differs, the EVE approach means that attacking other players in “high-security” space essentially means you are going to lose whatever ship (which is to say, resources) you made the attack with; sure, you can stomp noobs with a vastly superior ship, but said ship *will* be torn apart by the space cops in short order. Some griefers make a game of using cheap-but-still-deadlier ships to kill players in high-security space, but there’s no material incentive to do it.

      BDO, however, doesn’t really take anything from you for killing PvE players. You get penalties from negative karma, but you’re never prevented from playing or charged any resources. Hell, the ability to regain karma by killing NPC mobs basically sets up the idea that ganking PvE players is your earned reward for grinding. It’s pretty odious, honestly.

      1. Abnaxis says:

        I think my issue, here, is that everyone is kind of hand-waving the “penalties” away. What are the actual details of the penalties? Do they weaken your character? How much time/effort does it take to get rid of the penalties?

        Losing a ship in EVE isn’t a small deal. It takes money out of your pocket in retribution for your griefing, with no benefit other than making some miner or whatever’s day worse.

        Everyone keeps writing off the negative karma punishment, but nobody is doing so in concrete terms.

        1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

          The article Shamus linked to above details the penalties for negative karma, which include losing gems and exp (1%) when killed, maybe going to jail (no idea what that entails).

          1. TheJungerLudendorff says:

            From what i’ve gathered it the actual penalty depends on if you die in PvP or PvE, and if you’re inside the desert (which was the “official” PvP area I believe ).

            Outside the desert, PvP deaths cost you some XP and Gems (of the slot-into-items-to-upgrade variety)

            PvE deaths cost the same as PvP, and you risk downgrading your items on top of that.

            Inside the desert, PvP deaths get you thrown into jail, which is basically a timeout.

            PvE deaths cost XP and gems, like PvP in the rest of the world.

    2. GoStu says:

      I’ve played a few MMO-style games and different games have different solutions:

      World of Warcraft*: Depends on the server type but even on ‘pvp’ servers the lowest-level players weren’t attackable. Once you got into mid-level stuff it was open season but major towns had guards. Some zones like Stranglethorn Vale were notorious as the perfect storm to create PvP (best quests/XP for that level range, one of the first zones to attract both factions, etc) but they could be avoided.

      EVE Online: High-security “low-level” space makes uninvited PvP basically a suicide run. As players build their assets they head out to lower-security which makes PvP more possible, but not as mismatched.

      Elite: Dangerous: Solo Play is an option in which you will never see another player. Private Groups can be created where you only play with those you invite to the group. In Open Play you have no protections except for the vastness of space – there’s about 100,000 inhabited star systems (400,000,000,000 star systems total) so your odds of running into anyone are pretty low unless you go looking and arrange to meet up.

      *my experience with World of Warcraft is not current. They might have changed any or all of this by now.

    3. Michael says:

      The most common solution is to segregate PvP off from the main game content in some way.

      Games like Elder Scrolls Online or The Division create large PvP zones (though in both of those cases they’re PvPvE), along with instanced matches.

      A lot of MMOs create separate PvE and PvP servers. So, if you’re on a PvP server, you can fight other players, if you’re on a PvE server, that’s not an option.

      Thing is, as I recall, BDO actually suggests there’s separate PvE and PvP servers. It’s a lie. I’m guessing the ones marked PvP are for more aggressive members of the community, but I doubt it actually works out that way.

  8. Hal says:

    I’m mostly noticing how bad the translation is on that blurb from the company about how the PvP system works.

    I mean, I can understand (to an extent) going cheap on localization for the game itself; there’s going to be an awful lot of content there, so it might seem like you can get away with “good enough.”

    For more official materials? It seems like it would be worth the cost to have a fluent speaker and reader go over your materials to correct the translations, since it’s not nearly as much content as the game itself.

    1. TheJungerLudendorff says:

      Maybe they’re selling a proper translation in the cash shop.

      1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

        But then that particular item is itself badly translated, so no-one bought it.

  9. Somniorum says:

    WoW’s next expansion is actually (…finally…) doing something really elegant to fix the world pvp problem.

    Basically, pvp and pve servers are no longer a thing. They’re just servers now. In capital cities like Orgrimmar or Stormwind, you can open a menu and click on or off something called “warmode” which will determine if you’re up for world pvp or not. When you leave the city, it’ll put you in a sharded playspace with ONLY the people who’ve chosen the same as you – so, everybody you meet will have *specifically*, and very *recently* made a conscious choice whether they want to do pvp or not.

    When WoW first came out, I made the mistake of making my characters on pvp servers (in the manual, Blizzard said that was their ideal vision for the game). I *despised* it for years until part way through the Cataclysm expansion, at which point I couldn’t take it anymore and just remade all my characters on pve servers. People can still troll to a degree on pve servers (go to an enemy town and kill quest givers), but it’s nothing like doing a difficult – and *long* – escort quest and getting one-shotted by someone forty levels above you who then decides to camp your corpse.

    1. Grimwear says:

      WoW for me is way too far gone to ever be able to fix this but their new system really only works at max level. And for that matter there are no new players joining that game anyway which is why they implemented their new system of “nerf heirloom gear up the butt and make it so that dungeons take over the double the amount of time they used to!”. Seriously, I kept a lvl 20 prot paladin on hand for when I didn’t have a subscription up because if I ever got the itch I could quickly queue for an instance in their “starter account crap” where I’d get no exp and was at the 10 gold max, tank for people who needed one for 20 minutes, and then just log off when I got bored. After the heirloom nerf I went into Wailing Caverns and was in there for an hour! What a waste of time. Like great people were rushing through to get max level but now you made all fights take longer and deal more damage but…I’m still using the exact same skill rotation I always was. Well after that dungeon I quit out and full uninstalled the game.

      Anyway! Ya if you hate pvp toggle off and you don’t have to worry. If you do then toggle on! Great for pvpers. Except only max level. If you want to do world pvp like it was originally designed well…you won’t. Most areas are empty since there’s no one making new accounts so people are still sitting in cities with dungeon queue for leveling. But maybe they’ll quest now that dungeons take forever! Except their focus will be on hitting max level so they’ll just be toggled offline all the time so they don’t get ganked. I mean world pvp has been straight dead for years. All that ever happened was a max level would fly by and gank you. Their system doesn’t help anything because if I decide at lvl 50 to go quest and toggle pvp on to maybe fight people my level and I start getting ganked, I still need to escape to safety before I can hearth out to then turn it off and go back to continue what I was doing. Meaning that only needs to happen once before I just never toggle pvp on again until max level. Before I stopped my subscription in December (I only owned up to Warlords of Draenor so I only got to lvl 100 with my characters) I was just flying around the WoD endgame tanaan jungle trying to kill elites for gear drops. Those were the only times I recall getting ganked by lvl 110s as they did the same for reputation since they didn’t want me around taking kills from them. Even with their new system it doesn’t solve the problem. Now you’ll have people with pvp toggled off flying around and having no way to interact with the people farming the same groups as you. It’s easy to group with your faction to share rewards for the most part but now you’ll be fighting the opposite side for the same mobs with no way to deal with it. In their new “amazing” system they just created more problems.

  10. Joshua says:

    That is pretty much a big “Nope” for me then. My main MMO experience is from LOTRO, where they have a designated PvP area. There are some resources to gather there, but you know that it’s a PvP zone and to keep your awareness up. If you’re playing the regular PVE game, there is a 0% chance you will get ganked by another player.

    My one experience of playing WoW during a 10-day trial period about 10 years back had me run into a random Alliance player (I was Horde) who kept jumping around me like a clown while I was fighting a monster. I didn’t realize what was happening until I accidentally clicked on him which set my PvP flag on and he destroyed me as he was probably about 40 levels higher. I read about similar stories where players would try to “hide” in the bodies of larger quest-givers and merchants in the hopes that someone trying to talk to the NPC would accidentally click on them.

    If you want to play PvP because you like the extra challenge of a human opponent, good for you. There are plenty of games out there for you where the opponents are more or less on a level playing field. If you want to fight other players in an RPG because you want to use your superior equipment/levels to smoke someone who therefore has no chance against you so you can feel all tough and mighty, that doesn’t say good things about you.

    1. Tapkoh says:

      I didn’t realize what was happening until I accidentally clicked on him which set my PvP flag on and he destroyed me as he was probably about 40 levels higher. I read about similar stories where players would try to “hide” in the bodies of larger quest-givers and merchants in the hopes that someone trying to talk to the NPC would accidentally click on them.

      SWTOR did one better and actually sold an emote where the player would lie on the ground “dead” with the loot-signifying light beaming out of them. Right click was used for both interacting with objects / NPCs and using the action in hotbar 1, slot 1 if you right-clicked on a player or enemy. Most people have a damaging ability there, so people with the emote would flag their PVP /on and lie in a pile of new corpses, hoping people would try to loot them by accident, thus initiating PVP combat.

  11. Ilseroth says:

    So here’s the thing, I like PvP and I like open world PvP, because it means that it isn’t just some noble duel, you can get the drop on people. It means even if you are doing boring fetch quests, anything could happen at any moment… theoretically.

    The issue is, most open world PvP games like this are heavily level based, such as BDO or WoW, so what really happens is that people who are just straight assholes roam about on characters far overlevelled for an area and just one shot murder anyone they come across.

    It sucks because I have a lot of good memories of ambushing, being ambushed, meeting other people who were out doing quests and grouping with them for safety purposes, all really interesting interactions… and then you just need one asshole to come about and ruin the day…

    Also obviously I think this should be all optional. Some people don’t want that layer of tension, that degree of unpredictability which for me was a lifeblood that kept me interested in the boring ass “kill 10 of X” quests, but to others is just straight frustrating.

    1. Somniorum says:

      Warhammer Online had one of the nicest systems, imo, that fixed the level problem. If you were trying to do world pvp (outside of certain areas that were specifically marked as no-holds-barred pvp), but the target was a significantly lower level than you (I don’t recall how far below), you’d turn into a chicken with your first attempt to attack. Iirc, chickens couldn’t attack and were super easy to kill. Basically ensured that only people of roughly the same level would try to fight each other in the world setting.

      I mean, it technically takes you out of the fantasy a bit – there’s no obvious explanation in the game’s setting as to why someone would randomly turn into a chicken : P But games have all sorts of odd contrivances, so it seems fine enough to me.

  12. Echo Tango says:

    What would be a good system for inventory, and does it need to change for different types of MMO? You mention inventory slots vs weights in other games like Skyrim, and imply that they’re both a chore. For me, part of the fun of Skyrim / 3D Fallout was all of the looting, but it was made a chore because I had fast-travel and no quest timers. That is to say, in-game my character still walked for 3 days with this loot, but it was 30 seconds of loading-screen for me, and none of my quests ran out. The original Fallout had a timer on the main quest, and I always lamented not having timers on the smaller quests too. It always meant that I could get my character to infinite loot (and levels), if only I was to drag on their life into a decade of in-game years. Playing with limits meant I needed to choose to barter for medical supplies or bullets, but being able to level up forever, loot forever, grind forever, meant that I had no more interesting choices to make.

    1. Daimbert says:

      Well, I think the first question to ask is: aside from technical limitations, what is the purpose of limiting your inventory? What exploits are you trying to fix? What behaviour are you trying to encourage?

      In my own opinion, I don’t mind inventory limits as long as their main effect is to get me to go back to town in between dungeons but where I can pretty much get anything I want from the dungeons without discarding or managing the inventory. Dragon Age: Origins is PAINFUL for filling my inventory during their huge quest dungeons, forcing me to manage my inventory and toss things I wanted to keep, or instead to just keep returning to town to sell off everything any chance I got.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Mule/car needs to be a thing.This way,when you loot a dungeon,you can store all your crap in a huge backpack that will then haul it for you.Fallout 2 had this,and it was great.Every game with limited inventory needs to have this.

      The other good alternative is basically infinite inventory.

    3. Fizban says:

      Since the standard MMO quest is “collect 10 bear asses” and the standard MMO gear system seems to be “here’s a pile of vendor trash you’ll have to hawk to buy something useful from an auction house” the answer should usually be “no inventory limits whatsoever.”

      Consumable items can’t be balanced in a game where some people have no money and some people have loldollars. With no consumables there’s no gameplay reason to have limited inventory space. If changing equipment is a problem that can be managed with limits on changing equipment*, while adventure resource managment can be managed by having adventure resource mechanics (long cooldowns, uses based on dungeon clearing, etc).

      The only “MMOs” that should have inventory limits are those where it’s a core game mechanic. That’s your survival/craft/battle royals: Rust, Arc, PUBG, etc. The MMORPG has no place for it, since the “MMO” outweighs any trace of simulationism in the RPG.

      *Dark Souls for example has no inventory limit because it’s mostly a single player game, which is good, but limits on consumables during PvP depend on which game you’re playing, and there’s no limits on changing equipment. So in DS1 there’s no limit on heals, while in DS2 people would parry then switch to a giant weapon for more damage, and in any of them you can change your your weapons and rings to counter an opponent. But that’s basically the story of Dark Souls as a multiplayer game: half the measures in place, the other half completely absent of backwards.

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        That’s not true.

        Inventory limits were fine in WoW, for example, and provided for another kind of upgrade/money sink in bank slots and larger bags. And even in games where there aren’t survival mechanics having some things that limit the player and make him go back to town help prevent the game from become the kind of overly-streamlined and abstracted mind-numbed clickfest where you just follow one waypoint to the next and kill everything on the way.

        The only problem is when a game is careless with how much junk it drops or requires the player to cart around, or if the line between vendor trash and important stuff blurs so that the player doesn’t know what he needs to keep (the big problem with the half-assed crafting systems that RPGS are starting to throw in).

        1. Greg says:

          I ran into another inventory problem in WoW, but that’s just because it’s been around so long (and I’ve played it for so long). It’s annoying to run into inventory limits when each expansion adds another huge set of items that I want to collect.
          They’ve improved it a lot by turning things into ‘collections’ (pets, mounts, armor and weapons, toys) but I still have a bunch of bags in my bank slots that are full of things I don’t use on a day to day basis, but I don’t want to get rid of in case I want to play with them (like the Halloween wands that you can use to give ‘costumes’ to other people, and there’s one type of wand for each costume… bats, skeletons, etc.) or because I know I can no longer find them in-game anymore.

  13. Fizban says:

    I was interested to see they whys and indeed, pretty much just stuff I knew about. Except bad enough to prove my hesitance was well-founded. The work friend who plays it did in fact suggest the “don’t level up to 50th” solution, but I doubt they’re aware of the notification spam you get for it.

    He did make a point of how there are revenge-gank squads that go hunting particularly egregious griefers. Except I’m pretty sure it’s in the “pay our group real money to get revenge for you” sense.

    Yeah, it sure would be nice if people would stop forcing pvp. Really you need more of a mute button that lets you just remove them entirely- hide their chat, voice, avatar, generated effects, all of it. Gotta have group spaces, that’s what makes an MMO, but if you really want people to enjoy a shared fantasy space then the ability to properly ignore those you don’t want in your fantasy would be just the thing.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    There’s an easy solution to the problem, which is if you really don’t want griefers to slaughter players who are here for the PvE content, then just make it impossible to attack them.

    Ah,but then cant sell “I dont want to be attacked by anyone unless I specifically attack them first” shields.Which I am confident the store is selling,sorry,renting at reasonable prices.

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    If I wanted to fight other players I’d get fortnite and fight people on a level playing field.


    1. Droid says:

      But in Fortnite, there is no level playing field since everyone spams buildings.

  16. MarcoSnow says:

    I noticed a small error after the break; “I’ve said before that’s completely moronic to make PvP the endgame for PvE content” should read: “I’ve said before that it’s completely moronic […]”.

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “Well Shamus maybe you just need to get good and then getting ganked wouldn’t be a problem!”

    Im anticipating that this type of response will soon pop up from the troll with 18000 hours.

    My problem is that I hate PvP

    Thats not quite true.You have played plenty of pvp games.Its rather that you arent always in the mood for it,and like to keep it separate from your pve content.

    With that in mind,I cant really think of a game that blends the two.Ive only played games that are either one or the other,or games where the separation is clear and harsh.It really is bonkers to try and force players into one when they prefer the other.

    1. Droid says:

      Okay, I’ll bite.

      Dark Souls.

      1. Fizban says:

        Dark Souls PvP depends on the game: sometimes force, sometimes not, but always forced when you want to do co-op becuause screw you that’s why. Added to the half-baked restrictions and failure to impliment any sort of anti-cheat, and it’s single player or roll the dice. Making it remain as a single player game with interestingly integrated multiplayer aspects.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Sorry,my mistake.I wanted to write “that blends the two well”.And yeah,one of the reasons I never actually tried the souls games is its pvp component.

        1. Hal says:

          At least in Bloodborne, it’s optional. That is, you only have the PvP element when you’re playing co-op as well, so if you’re just playing single-player, you don’t have to worry about PvP.

          There’s more than enough to worry about already in that game.

        2. Daniel says:

          I played the entirety of Dark Souls on the XBox 360 in single player. It was a bit annoying that I constantly had to take my Xbox offline to do it, but the game was pretty great.

          Would have been nice to see the messages others left and whatnot without having the PvP element though.

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            I played DS1 offline.

            I played DS2 online, because I said what the heck and found that player ghosts and messages really added to the feel of the game for me. I think I had a total of 5 or so instances of PvP, didn’t win any but had a surprisingly good experience with very polite players. Mind you, this was years after the game’s release.

            Right now I’m sort of stuck in DS3 but this one seems to have PvP 100% off when you’re not embered, while still letting you see messages, ghosts and bloodstains of other players.

            1. Droid says:

              Well, uh, if you’d like a melee axe-dude for help (who isn’t terribly good, but good enough to be helpful), I would gladly help.
              I’ll also try my best to not spoil the experience, as I love exploring on my own, so I definitely wouldn’t hurry you or show you stuff.

          2. Guest says:

            The problem of Dark Souls PVP is vastly overstated. Outside of a few instances, it only applies when unhollowed, which means you’ve set yourself up for coop, or in 3, you’ve beaten a boss, there’s really quite few situations where you’ll just be interrupted and you won’t be aware you’re vulnerable.

            It’s probably best in the first to be honest, because most invasions give you a chance at getting a huge boost of souls if you kill the invader. Yes they can grief you, or play cat and mouse for a long time, but the odds are in the host’s favor. It’s really not as bad as it’s made out to be. If you don’t unhollow, you’ll be fine. DS3’s probably the worst for it, ironically, because they tried to make the PVP more accessible and more frequent, if you choose to partake, but that means that the rewards are next to nothing for defeating an invader.

            1. Asdasd says:

              I didn’t really want to engage in pvp in Dark Souls, but I found in the half dozen or so times it happened it was tense, exciting and enhanced my experience. I absolutely accept that I may have just ‘got lucky’ with my encounters (no griefers, no hackers, even managed to win a few duels.. although there was the time I hid in a corner for five minutes, only to be discovered and roll into a bottomless chasm in sheer panic.)

              But the game does have two stages of opt-out (don’t go online, or go online but don’t unhollow.)

  18. Nick Powell says:

    This is basically how I feel about Dark Souls’ random PVP invasions. I’ll be playing through what is essentially a single player game, and then suddenly the game tells me that some laggy min-maxer has just entered my game with the intention of forcing me to lose a load of progress. It’s inherently unfair because the only people who sign up to invade other people’s games are the ones who are geared for PVP and willing to get better at it.

    Yes, I know I can just disconnect from the online servers, but I think the other features (messages and bloodstains) are really important to the experience. At least it doesn’t happen very often.

    1. Fizban says:

      Going around hollow/unembered all the time lets you keep the messages and bloodstaings without being invaded. At varying costs of health and ugliness. And while letting you stay pretty when unembered, DS3 forces to be embered after every boss. So you just have to cowardly throw yourself off a cliff in order to evade something that should be opt-in only.

      Of course if the Blue Sentinels/whatevers actually showed up every time one was invaded, it wouldn’t be so bad, but they’ve tied the system to what area you’re loaded into rather than actually calling available online players to help like an intelligent person would.

      1. Grimwear says:

        I only played DS1 and 2 but a quick glance at the DS3 wiki shows the Blue Sentinel Covenant works the same way and it’s the literal dumbest covenant ever conceived. Ideally someone who doesn’t like pvp joins the Way of Blue, then when they get invaded the Blue Sentinels show up to help them. Well in DS2 I joined the Blue Sentinels to try it out. Never got summoned once. Because the people who hate pvp so much that they’d contemplate joining the Way of Blue who’s only benefit is to maybe have a helper come save them, are way more likely to just unplug their machine and play full offline instead.

        Seriously it’s so stupid. Ideally you play through the game, join covenants when you see them, maybe get some upgrades and use them to buy spells, then swap later but with Way of Blue the fear of invasion locks them in and makes them hate the game even more. Thank god DS1 and I believe 3 lets you just stay hollow/unembered? Enjoy the pve covenants, no worry of other players, play your way. God DS2 B team just are just annoying all round with everything they made.

    2. adam says:

      Yeah but this isn’t that hard to deal with. At least you have the option to stay out of it. I just stay “hollow” until a boss fight. Toward the end of DS3 I would consume an Ember whenever I felt like it and still only got invaded a few times over the course of a dozen hours.

      1. Guest says:

        That’s it, you literally just don’t ember, which, most players won’t be when they’re regularly progressing, because they’re a limited resource and you lose it when you die.

        Also, gearing for PVP is the same as gearing for PVE for the most part in Dark Souls. These complaints make relatively little sense. The one exception, which, admittedly, is an annoying one, is the early game, which gets worse with the newer games, especially when they’re more popular, because there are a few tricks some players will use to get relatively advanced gear for a relatively low level and grief. It’s a problem, but it’s still one that comes up because you’re running around unhollowed.

  19. GoStu says:

    I’m a PvP fan in most games I play, and that includes open-world PvP. I’m a devout Elite: Dangerous player and love the occasional risk that comes with flying into a system that has PvP opposition. Those are the most satisfying fights because they are hard.

    I’d love to see your take on it, but my $0.02 is that if PvP is going to be a thing in your game it absolutely has to be done right. In no particular order…

    1) The game’s PvE content needs to do a decent job preparing players to fight players. The mechanics of NPCs should be similar to PCs and they should not be complete pushovers. (Elite is not great at this – players can massively out-gear NPCs and learn some very bad lessons. They get the false impression that they’re playing well and doing right until a better player comes by and annihilates them)

    2) There needs to be some barriers between the fully geared/levelled players and the newest. Nothing sucks harder than unwinnable fights you can’t avoid. Mismatches in player levels and gear are okay but shouldn’t be unavoidably huge.

    3) There needs to be some support for the PvP community. Keep them engaged and rewarded with each other and not bored and massacreing your non-PvP crowd for fun. Things like WoW’s arena were good – they were organized and came with recognition and rewards for winning while not being so good that the PvE crowd felt forced to participate

    1. Jennifer Snow says:

      Dungeons and Dragons Online is pretty much the only MMO I’ve ever seen where PvP barely even qualifies as an afterthought–if you’re REALLY BORED, you can go fight other players in taverns or by issuing them a “challenge” which teleports you bothto an enclosed fight arena. But there’s absolutely no point to it whatsoever.

      I’m not fond of PvP where you just fight each other, even if there are actual rewards. I’d like to play a game where you’re competing to complete objectives–yeah, you CAN fight the other players to interfere with their ability to complete their objectives, but you have to balance that with your own objective-completion goals.

    2. Jabberwok says:

      I haven’t played a ton of EVE, but I like their system of using security levels to let you control how much risk you want to take.

  20. Dreadjaws says:

    Forced PVP.

    Well, up until now I thought there might be at least some inkling of hope I might at some point check this game for a bit, ignoring the cash shop and such, but nevermind, I’m staying entirely away from it.

  21. Grampy_bone says:

    Wow, forced PvP at max level would enrage me.

  22. Jumbily Wobbly says:

    How long has this been in the que? All those down time compensation gifts are time stamped 2016

    1. Shamus says:

      I wrote this series a month ago. I’d just returned to the game and found all those messages waiting in my inbox.

    2. Henson says:

      Just a minor correction: the word is spelled ‘queue’.

    3. Droid says:

      ELEVEN “extended downtime” messages on 2016-10-12 alone! How do you screw up so bad that servers are down not once for a longer period of time, but eleven times, seemingly with some uptime in-between, which all had to be individually compensated for some reason?

      1. Shamus says:

        According to forum gossip this extended / frequent downtime was a problem in NA only. While I was playing I experienced disconnects or lag spikes once every few hours. It wasn’t enough to hurt the game or anything (back in the 90s, / early aughts that would have been considered fantastic) and I was always able to jump right back in, but it did seem a little rough compared to contemporary games.

        During the writing of this series they migrated the NA servers to new facilities / carrier, but it happened just as I hit level 50 so I didn’t hang around long enough to see if the situation improved.

  23. Misamoto says:

    And that’s why WoW is still MMORPG king.

    I remember I’ve been playing Lineage 2 on some pirated servers in 200x (don’t judge, it’s been a wild time, and I’m in Russia, accessible licenses didn’t get to us until a lot later). The game had somewhat similar system where players could PvP anyone and everything, but without consent it marked them red, made their equipped items drop a lot and town guards hunt them. Well, what do you know. There was always some naked max lvl motherfuckers just out of starting town guard’s reach killing low lvls with punches or bows. Imagine how fun was that. But we still played, didn’t have anything better.

  24. Dragmire says:

    Maybe they’ll sell the bonus of, “opting out of pvp will stop players from damaging you for a month”.

  25. adam says:

    Microtransactions have helped make video games a massive industry. They’ve also contributed to a disease at the heart of many big gaming companies. It’s hard to blame a company from wanting to make as much money as possible from their game, and it’s hard to blame players spending their money how they see fit, but where does this end? At what point do gamers say “enough”?

    We fought back against EA over Battlefront II, but everyone knows that was a temporary victory and EA will just vary their tactics and try again. How is a game like BDO so popular despite being unrepentantly predatory?

    I fear for a future where full-fledged, high-quality PC and console games are developed like mobile games: for the sole purpose of extracting as much money as possible from a small percentage of players that have money to burn, while the rest of us make do with whatever is left over.

    1. Jabberwok says:

      Meh, capitalism ruins every art form. But real artists keep making good stuff, regardless. Just hunt them down and support them, while ignoring the monolithic industry that looms above us.

  26. Jabberwok says:

    Whelp, I already started playing BDO because of your first article, and forked over ten bucks when my trial ended. I did not know about the level 50 PvP thing at the time, but now I do. That sucks… Ah well, might still get ten dollars worth of fun out of it.

  27. Decius says:

    No discussion at all of the Energy system?

  28. GTB says:

    I think another reason for the “PVP as the end game” formula that many mmorpgs have is that making content is expensive and time consuming. By forcing the player into pvp, you’re now putting the responsibility of creating fun on the player. No need for new content, with it’s accompanied level design, npcs, voice overs (maybe), quests, etc. Now the players make their own “emergent gameplay” by murdering each other over and over in the same areas they’ve already been grinding. Or possible new pvp zones that don’t require much more than a wide open space with some choke points. Easy! Cheap!

    I -like- pvp, but I like it either explicit in the game design from the start, or carefully separated from the pve. DAoC had the best pvp model (and of course Warhammer Online too, natch) and I wish we could go back to that.

    1. Asdasd says:

      That’s a good point. You could even argue that you haven’t definitionally reached the end-game until you’ve exhausted all the PVE content, at which point there’s nothing to do except replay old PVE content or fight each other. Devs could add more PVE content but isn’t that pushing the end game back?

      Then again some games had mission generators to let the players create content. City of Heroes for example. It was pretty great once you got over the Sturgeon’s Law inevitabilities.

      1. GTB says:

        To get into more detail, I think it makes sense when you think about the MMORPG cycle of life: Concept->Development->Hype->Release->Expansions->Life Support->Cancellation. The post-release period means that most of the people who can actually make new assets have been moved to new teams working on whatever the next game is. There might be a handful of artists and modelers finishing up the DLC or expansions or whatever, but for the most part the expansions are all going to just reuse assets, or use assets that already exist in preparation for expected post-release DLC. Nobody is really hammering out new shit at this point. They can’t afford to waste artists and level designers on old games, because profit levels out on launch, and slowly dwindles until cancellation. The most efficient way to run an mmo studio is to keep churning out new variants on the same gameplay system every 3-5 years and cashing in on the hype->release phase where all the money is. There are a few exceptions to this: Blizzard of course cranks out new stuff with each expansion, or fucks up old stuff with cataclysmic damage, Arenanet usually has a mix of reused, reskinned assets and new stuff.

        The point is that PvP is a way to continue the release->life support period without needing a lot of bodies making new things. You can reuse all your old stuff. PvP adds additional work with class balance, but anyone who has played an mmo in the last.. oh… ever, knows how much time actually goes into that. Pro-tip: Not much, especially after the lead designer has left to work on the next big thing.

        F2P games are the ultimate result of this cycle. Subscriptions rely on players hanging around, but F2P games get most of their money in burst form from new players logging on and buying shit to make the grind easier. Or to get some extra character slots, or whatever. It’s actually in their best interest to get as many new players as possible, instead of sustaining the player base. And when the new player influx starts to dry up, the point where it becomes more profitable to shutter the game and start again with a new game where people haven’t already purchased new character slots or bank tabs starts to get closer and closer.

  29. Bloodsquirrel says:

    I remember my days of playing on a PvP server on WoW.

    The problem was that, even if you liked PvP, you still had to have a different set of gear and spec for it than for PvE content, and if you’re playing a mage and another player waits until you’ve aggroed monsters to attack you’re at a tremendous disadvantage. Oh, and the PvP is balanced for 1v1.

    What it came down to was that world PvP was still all about random ganking, and if somebody just wanted to waste your time while you were trying to do your dailies they could do that and there wasn’t much you could do to stop them. Even if you can fight them evenly, you still can’t just kill them and go about your mission, because they’ll be right back. They can wait on their flying mount until you attack a mob. They can stealth as a rouge and wait.

    World PvP was almost never interesting. It was just a pain in the ass that always cropped up when you didn’t want it to.

  30. Lun says:

    Shamus, sorry but I play F2P games all the time and I’m in disagreement with your comment that the F2P experience sometimes ruins games.
    The games I play are not money-grinding Korean mmorpg stuff, so I’ve never encountered a F2P game which was pay-to-win or which tried to force players to pay to get a better experience.

    The only stuff I encountered in my F2P games was purely cosmetics. And in most cases, you could get that same stuff for free with time and grind.

    F2P games for me have always been a “play for free, and if you stick around for enough hours, you might be tempted and convinced to get a different outfit… but if you’ve stuck around that long, it means the game’s good so you can give us a couple bucks for a different costume”.

    I’m just saying that your article made it feel to me like F2P ruined many videogames. Maybe it ruined mmorpg or Korean games, I don’t know. It sure didn’t seem to ruin anything else, from what I’ve played.

    Unless when you say “some games did the f2p well” you mean “some mmorpg did the f2p well”?

  31. Ovadyah says:

    just finished with olvia server time and am now stuck being forced into pvp sickness. btw i think level 45 is pvp now. totally ruins games for me.

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